- Buea DO Promises To Look Into The Situation With Southwest Governor
The Divisional Officer for Buea, Abba Abdourahman has assured women from Ekona that their worries about military brutalities and killings in the area will be looked into.
The DO told the women that he was channelling their complaints to the Southwest Governor, Bernard Okalia Bilai to seek solutions.
This happened on Wednesday, February 15, as women from Ekona in Muyuka Subdivision stormed the Gendarmerie Legion in Buea demanding the release of their children arrested by the forces of law and order during military raids in the community.
They were equally denouncing continued killings, unwanted arrests, and intimidation from the Cameroon Military.
Atlantic Chronicles spoke to some protestors at the Buea Independent Square where the DO had asked them to sit and wait for buses to take them back to Ekona.
According to these elderly women, whom we have concealed their Identities for security reasons, since the start of the Anglophone crisis, now a conflict, military atrocities in Ekona have been rampant.
What sparked the protest, they said, was the killing of a certain Obini Felix in his 20s by the military on Monday, February 13. Obini Felix, they said, was pulled out from his house and shot dead just metres away.
“He just returned from the farm and bathed. Wore his towel and came out. The military entered the house and asked him to put on trousers. He did that and they took him. Just as they left, we heard gunshots. We followed just to discover that he has been killed by the Military,” one of the women told AC.
His death coupled with numerous arrests prompted women in Ekona to trek to Buea to demand justice and an end to these atrocities. They matched with peace plants on their hands brandishing in every military control point they passed across.
“Yesterday (Tuesday, February, 14,) women whose children have been arrested and taken to the Gendarmerie in Buea, took food to their children but the authorities prevented them from giving the food the children. It is from there that they came back and asked us to galvanise to protest against all these happenings” a woman sorrowfully lamented.
They said the people in Ekona cannot go about their daily activities freely without the military harassing them and accusing them of harbouring Ambazonia fighters. This has been on and on, they said.
“They (authorities) have asked us to leave the bushes and come back home. But since we did that, they have been arresting us now from houses. Children will not have liberty again? Those are some of the things we have come to ask the Governor.” they said.
Most of these children being arrested are students schooling in Buea, and other parts where there is relative calm. Whenever they go back for weekends or holidays and are playing, they would be arrested.
For any child being arrested, the women said the military charges either FCFA 250,000 or 350,000 for the concerned to regain liberty, but AC has not been able to verify these claims yet.
“The military is terrorising us every day. We don’t have peace again. When they make like this and we seek refuge in bushes, they will plead with us to come back but when we do, they will come and start arresting our children. They will come and tag us as ‘Amba’ (People fighting for independence in Cameroon’s English regions). We are not Amba, do we even know them? Are they in uniform for us to know? The military is accusing us of hiding them. The situation is more than us.” A protesting woman bitterly recounted, saying how they escaped to Douala in the Littoral region but life became hell for them forcing them to come back yet the military will still not leave them to find peace.
Ekona is not the only place that is suffering from these harassments and killings. Many places like Akwaya, Ndu, Kumbo, Mbonge among others are witnessing the same thing.
Consequences of the Anglophone conflict
These are the results of the ongoing war the Cameroon government has waged against separatists clamouring for the independence and restoration of Former British Southern Cameroons. It started in late 20216 just as a lawyers and teachers’ strike which decried the marginalisation of the Anglophones and demanded among others “outright independence” from French Cameroon. The government responded with repressive measures and in 2017, what was a peaceful protest in 2016 escalated into an armed conflict.
This has led to the loss of lives and the destruction of properties. According to Crisis Group, since 2017, over 6,000 people have died while over 765,000 displaced of whom are 70,000 refugees in Nigeria. The UN estimated that over 600,000 children have been deprived of education owing to the conflict.
In order to rebuild the destroyed regions, President Paul on February 6, 2023, signed a decree authorizing the Ministry of finance to contract a loan of EUR 33.25 Million about FCFA 21 billion from the Islamic Development Bank as part of his Presidential Plan for Reconstruction and Development.
Calls for dialogue
Biya has rejected calls from the national and international community to dialogue with the separatist and end the war. In his end-of-year address to the nation on December 31, 2022, he said calm is gradually returning to the war-rocked regions. However, despite his describing what is happening as “pockets of resistance”, attacks since 2023 have continued to pursue the Cameroon Military with the recent being the destruction of a military camp in Manyu Division of the southwest region.
On Friday, January 20, 2023, the Canadian Government through the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Melanie Joly announced that it has accepted a mandate to mediate a peace process between the Cameroon government and Separatists to end the over six-year war. This was highly applauded by the national and international community that waged their support for it. Just three days after the Canadian announcement, Cameroon through the Minister of Communication, Rene Emmanuel Sadi released a communique saying it has not mandated any institution or body to seek peace negotiation in the English regions. To him, the government believes in the outcome of the Major National Dialogue of 2019 which many have highly criticised as “not effective”.